Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5
Ireland/Canada/New Zealand/USA, 2019. Firefly Films, Blinder Films, Nowhere, Scythia Films. Story by Toby Harvard, Ant Timpson, Screenplay by Toby Harvard. Cinematography by Daniel Katz. Produced by Daniel Bekerman, Toby Harvard, Katie Holly, Mette-Marie Kongsved, Emma Slade, Laura Tunstall. Music by Karl Steven. Production Design by Zosia Mackenzie. Costume Design by Agnela Ganderton. Film Editing by Dan Kircher.
Elijah Wood leaves his mother’s Beverly Hills mansion and shows up at a remote beachside home in rural Oregon (actually shot in Tofino, British Columbia), drawn there by a letter sent to him by his estranged father. Having not seen him since he was a small child, Wood has difficulty relating to this argumentative, unpleasant old man (played by a potent Stephen McHattie), almost from the start intimidated enough to make up stories about his wildly successful career in the music industry which his father pokes holes into immediately. Confused about why he has even been brought out to this place by someone who seems uninterested in connecting with him, Wood makes the best of his situation until a chance discovery throws the story in a completely new direction: a hole in the floor leads to a hidden chamber with a great deal of secrets, which turns this film from a grim family drama into a grindhouse action movie about one man against a host of very scary enemies. A clever conceit and a thrilling switch indeed, carried by Wood’s always reliable ability to portray vulnerable incredulity, but director Ant Timpson and screenwriter Toby Harvard have a created a top-heavy plot that spends far too much time on a set up that, rather than being upended and informing the second part, feels like an excuse for a low-budget film to kill time before delivering the more expensive sequences. The second act in which Wood must get himself out of a whole heap of dangerous trouble feels rushed and resolves too easily for the film to be a real trip down a rabbit hole, but it’s beautifully photographed and has more than a few moments of impressive gore and exciting thrills.